Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Japan government: Journo held in Syria has been freed




Japan government: Journo held in Syria has been freed

Japan government: Journo held in Syria has been freed

The Japanese government on Wednesday confirmed that a journalist kidnapped in Syria more than three years ago has been freed and is in Turkey.

“We have confirmed the safety of Jumpei Yasuda, who had been held captive in Syria since 2015,” Foreign Minister Taro Kono told reporters.

Japanese officials said late Tuesday they were trying to confirm reports that the 44-year-old freelancer, who was seized in June 2015, had been freed.

Embassy officials visited him at an immigration centre in Antakya in Turkey, and he is expected to return to Japan soon, after health checks.

Yasuda’s wife Myu was appearing live on private station TV Asahi when Kono announced the news.

“Thank you . . . Thank you for praying for him and taking action,” she said in tears.

“I want to see him in good shape. That’s all I want,” Yasuda’s father had told reporters earlier in the day.

Yasuda was thought to have been seized by the group previously known as the Al-Nusra Front, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, in northern Syria.

However, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, led by Al-Qaeda’s former branch in Syria, denied any involvement in a statement Tuesday.

Al-Qaeda’s former Syria affiliate was known as Al-Nusra Front before it cut ties with the transnational jihadist network in 2016 and changed its name.

In August, videos emerged showing Yasuda and an Italian national, Alessandro Sandrini, appealing for their release.

Both men were wearing orange outfits with armed, masked men standing behind them. The videos did not identify which group was holding the men or include specific demands.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said Tuesday that Yasuda was released under a Turkish-Qatari deal, with some sources saying a ransom had been paid.

But Japan’s top government spokesman denied Wednesday any payment was involved.

“That kind of thing never happened,” Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

In 2015, militants from the Islamic State group beheaded Japanese war correspondent Kenji Goto and his friend Haruna Yukawa in Syria.

The Japanese government was criticised for what detractors saw as its flat-footed response to the crisis at the time, including apparently missed opportunities to free both men.

MOST VIEWED

  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • Singapore Fintech start-up enters Sihanoukville

    Singapore-based fintech start-up Fincy on Wednesday announced the expansion of its cashless payment system to Sihanoukville to tap into the southwestern coastal city’s ever-widening business and investment landscape. The move is in line with the National Bank of Cambodia’s (NBC’s) recommendations to